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Announcement
June 24, 2016

Faculty appointments: Jessica Abel and Didier William

Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (PAFA)
Jessica Abel and Didier William. Courtesy of the artists.

The Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (PAFA) is pleased to announce the appointment of two new faculty members: Jessica Abel, Chair of the Illustration Program; and Didier William, Chair of the MFA Program.

Dean of the School, Clint Jukkala, notes, “Jessica Abel is a leading and innovative voice in comics, storytelling and visual communication. Her vision for PAFA’s Illustration program connects our strong fine arts traditions with a focus on empowering students to succeed as creators as well as entrepreneurs. Didier William is a remarkable artist and educator who brings extraordinary leadership abilities to the Chair position and a vision for graduate education that is collaborative, interdisciplinary and student centered. We are thrilled to have them both joining our dynamic PAFA community.”

Jessica Abel is the author of the award-winning graphic novel La Perdida as well as two collections of stories from her omnibus comic book Artbabe. She and her husband, cartoonist Matt Madden, were series editors for The Best American Comics from 2007 to 2013 and have authored two widely praised textbooks about making comics. Jessica collaborated with Ira Glass on Radio: An Illustrated Guide, a non-fiction comic about how the radio show This American Life is made. Her new book (and podcast), Out on the Wire, is about how the best radio producers in the world use storytelling to keep listeners engaged. Abel has lectured and taught numerous courses and workshops in the U.S. and Europe on subjects such as storytelling, visual narrative, and becoming a comics artist.

Abel will lead PAFA’s new Illustration Program, in which students develop skills in storytelling, visual communication and entrepreneurship. Their training includes building strong foundational skills in drawing, painting, sculpture and printmaking—a core PAFA philosophy that has launched generations of PAFA artists and illustrators from Maxfield Parrish and Violet Oakley to Don Martin and Kate Samworth.

Didier William has exhibited his work at The Bronx Museum of the Arts, Fredericks & Freiser and Kravets Wehby Gallery, both in New York; Fraenkel Gallery in San Francisco; Galerie Schuster in Miami and Berlin; and Hap Gallery in Portland, Oregon. He is the recipient of the Artist in the Marketplace (AIM) award at The Bronx Museum, a Marie Walsh Sharpe Art Foundation residency, and a Hearst Foundation grant. He has held positions as Graduate Critic at Columbia University and Yale University, Visiting Assistant Professor at Vassar College, and Resident Faculty at the Yale Norfolk summer program. He received his BFA from Maryland Institute College of Art and his MFA from the Yale University School of Art.

William will head PAFA’s two-year, interdisciplinary MFA program, which graduates 40 students per year working in all media, from painting and printmaking to video and sculpture. More than 20 faculty members teach in the program, and a robust visiting artist schedule brings an outstanding line-up of artists to campus each semester. William will work collaboratively with all aspects of the museum and school, including the Post-Baccalaureate, Low-Residency MFA, and undergraduate programs.

 

About PAFA 
Founded in 1805, the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (PAFA) is America’s first school of fine arts and museum. A recipient of the 2005 National Medal of Arts, PAFA is a recognized leader in fine arts education with a world-class permanent collection of American art.

PAFA programs include Certificate, BFA, and BFA with University of Pennsylvania for undergraduates, and MFALow-Residency MFA, and Post-Baccalaureate Certificate for graduate students. For more information, visit www.pafa.edu.

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